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UNDP Resident representative Richard Dictus, MBS Director General Davlin Chokazinga sign the SQAM deal as His Excellency the EU Ambassador to Malawi Alexander Baum looks on.

There is a clear need for rapid and sustainable economic growth if Malawi is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the overall objective of poverty reduction on a meaningful scale. Trade has the potential to be an engine for growth that may lift many Malawians out of poverty. However, the country faces barriers that prevent it from benefiting fully from the world trading system. Internal barriers, like inadequate knowledge and limited accessibility to information on export opportunities, excessive red tape, inadequate financing, and poor quality infrastructure, pose major obstacles to Malawi’s trade expansion and diversification efforts. Such quantifiable supply-side constraints substantively add to operational costs and undermine trade development and export competitiveness in Malawi.
The Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) is the National Enquiry Point required by the World Trade Organization under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The MBS sets and implements standards and conducts conformity tests on selected imports and exports. There is a strong perception that market demand for conformity services, particularly with regards to testing and calibration services for the private sector, is higher than currently available. However, exporters from Malawi are at present disadvantaged by the lack of internationally accredited testing facilities for certification of products for export. Certificates from the MBS are only accepted in the region and in a few other countries in Africa and in few countries outside of Africa and exporters incur high costs to obtain certification overseas.
More generally, the MBS has limited infrastructure to meet demands for the provision of standardization, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology (SQAM) services within Malawi. This is however well recognised by the Government of Malawi that has demonstrated significant commitment to stregthen the Malawian SQAM landscape through the approval by Cabinet of the National Quality Policy, in May 2013 supported also by financial commitments towards the Infrastructure Development for MBS. Other policies and strategies for export and socioeconomic development, e.g. the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II, National Export Strategy, Economic Recovery Plan will also significantly contribute to improved business environment and enhance quality of life of Malawian citizens.
Against this background, the “Development of a robust SQAM Infrastructure in Malawi” project, funded by the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the Malawi Government, is meant to enhance the ability to export goods from Malawi by reducing the need for re-testing, re-inspection, re-certification abroad through acceptance of measurements, tests, conformity assessment results issued in Malawi. The purpose of the project is to contribute to a more adequate, effective and sustainable National Quality Infrastructure in Malawi in accordance with international and regional principles and practices (e.g. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC)), by supporting the improvement of the performance of the MBS. This will have direct implications in terms of benefits for Malawian enterprises through improved business services provided by the National Quality Infrastructure and indirectly, and in the long term, in terms of improved protection of consumer rights of Malawian citizens.

This is where the robust SQAM infrastructure will be developed.

The Lead Implementing Partner for the project is the MBS. The overall implementation framework of the project is guided by a Contribution Agreement between the European Union (with support amounting to € 3.8 million) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Financial and Management oversight is provided by the UNDP whilst the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) provides technical support. The project duration is from September 2012 to September 2016.


The overall objective of the project is to enhance the ability to export goods from Malawi by reducing the need for re-testing, re-inspection, recertification abroad through acceptance of measurements, tests, conformity assessment results issued in Malawi.

Expected Outputs

  • Strengthened capacity of the MBS to deliver business services and to achieve financial sustainability;
  • Technical Regulations reviewed to promote efficient, effective and accountable delivery of information in accordance with SQAM legislation and regulations;
  • Structurally enhanced capacity of the MBS for conformity assessment services;
  • Strengthened, proactive and responsive National Enquiry Points to the information and notification requirements of WTO/TBT/SPS agreements;
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary infrastructure improved and mainstreamed into National polices;
  • Capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises, and particularly women and youth led enterprises, strengthened to comply with quality requirements; and
  • MBS compliant with International Regulations.

CEO awareness seminar of the SQAM project.

The initial phase of the project was primarily concerned with establishing project structures and concluding agreements amongst the implementation partners and implementation of the more technical activities in the project scheduled to commence late in 2013. Some specific achievements during this initial phase included:

  • Concluding agreement between UNDP and MBS for national implementation activities and between UNDP and UNIDO for specialized technical support
  • Formalizing project structures and appointment of National Project Coordinator and a Chief Technical Advisor
  • Engagements with stakeholders, including Industry and Private Sector, in view of establishment strategic partnerships and project visibility
  • Initial designs supported by international technical assistance in support of new MBS offices and laboratories
  • Procurement of equipment and upgrading of MBS ICT infrastructure (project vehicle, ICT equipment and internet service provider agreement)
  • Requirements analysis, technical specification and launch of international tenders for legal metrology equipment (vehicle, weights and laboratory equipment for improved weighbridge verification services, prover tank system and master meter system for improved petroleum volume verification services)

The Director General
Malawi Bureau of Standards
Moirs Road
P.O. Box 946
Blantyre, Malawi
Tel: +265 1 870 488
Fax: +265 1 870 756

EU Ambassador
European Union
Delegation of the European Union to Malawi
Area 18
Roundabout Presidential Way/Cnr M1
P.O. Box 30102
Lilongwe 3, Malawi
Tel: +265 1 773 199
Fax: +265 1 773 534

UNDP Resident Representative
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-Malawi)
P.O. Box 30135
Lilongwe 3, Malawi
Tel: +265 1 773 500
Fax: +265 1 773 637

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Vienna International Centre
P.O. Box 300,
Vienna, Austria
Tel: +431 260 26-0
Fax: +431 269 2669

National Project Coordinator: Willy Muyila <>
Chief Technical Advisor: Francois Denner <>